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The Impact of Natural Disasters on Child Health and Investments in Rural India

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  • Ashlesha Datar
  • Jenny Liu
  • Sebastian Linnemayr
  • Chad Stecher

Abstract

Natural disasters are becoming more frequent worldwide and there is growing concern that they may adversely affect short- and long-term health outcomes in developing countries. Prior research has primarily focused on the impact of single, large disaster events but very little is known about how small to moderate disasters, which are more typical, affect population health. This paper presents one of the first investigations of the impact of small and moderate disasters on childhood morbidity, physical growth, and immunizations by combining household data from three waves of the Indian National Family and Health Survey with an international database of natural disasters (EM-DAT). It finds that exposure to a natural disaster in the past month increases the likelihood of acute illnesses such as diarrhea, fever, and acute respiratory illness in children under 5 year by 9-18%. Exposure to a disaster in the past year reduces height-for-age and weight-for-age z-scores by 0.12-0.15 standard deviations, increases the likelihood of stunting and underweight by 7%, and reduces the likelihood of having full age-appropriate immunization coverage by nearly 18%. It also finds that disasters' effects vary significantly by gender, age, and socioeconomic characteristics. Most notably, the adverse effects on growth outcomes are much smaller among boys and infants.

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  • Ashlesha Datar & Jenny Liu & Sebastian Linnemayr & Chad Stecher, 2011. "The Impact of Natural Disasters on Child Health and Investments in Rural India," Working Papers WR-886, RAND Corporation.
  • Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:wr-886
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    6. David I. Levine & Dean Yang, 2014. "The Impact of Rainfall on Rice Output in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 20302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Thiede, Brian C. & Gray, Clark, 2020. "Climate exposures and child undernutrition: Evidence from Indonesia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 265(C).
    8. Fanzo, Jessica & McLaren, Rebecca & Davis, Claire & Choufani, Jowel, 2017. "Climate change and variability: What are the risks for nutrition, diets, and food systems?," IFPRI discussion papers 1645, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Algur, Kisan Dilip & Patel, Surendra Kumar & Chauhan, Shekhar, 2021. "The impact of drought on the health and livelihoods of women and children in India: A systematic review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    10. Chang, Grace & Favara, Marta & Novella, Rafael, 2022. "The origins of cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills: The long-term effect of in-utero rainfall shocks in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    11. Bulaon, June Patrick & Shoji, Masahiro, 2022. "Disaster Exposure in Childhood and Adult Noncognitive Skill: Evidence from the Philippines," MPRA Paper 112913, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Gaurav Dhamija & Gitanjali Sen, 2022. "Lasting Impact on Health from Natural Disasters, Potential Mechanisms and Mitigating Effects," Working Papers 2022-03, Shiv Nadar University, Department of Economics.
    13. Noghanibehambari, Hamid, 2022. "In utero exposure to natural disasters and later-life mortality: Evidence from earthquakes in the early twentieth century," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 307(C).
    14. Ahsanuzzaman, & Islam, Muhammad Q., 2020. "Children’s vulnerability to natural disasters: Evidence from natural experiments in Bangladesh," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 19(C).
    15. Shreyasee Das & Shatanjaya Dasgupta, 2019. "Marriage Market Responses in the Wake of a Natural Disaster in India," DETU Working Papers 1902, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    16. Aniqa Islam Marshall & Gideon Lasco & Mathudara Phaiyarom & Nattanicha Pangkariya & Phetdavanh Leuangvilay & Pigunkaew Sinam & Rapeepong Suphanchaimat & Sataporn Julchoo & Watinee Kunpeuk & Yunting Zh, 2021. "Evidence on Child Nutrition Recommendations and Challenges in Crisis Settings: A Scoping Review," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(12), pages 1-19, June.
    17. Ghazal Shahpari & Hossein Sadeghi & Malihe Ashena & David García-León, 2022. "Drought effects on the Iranian economy: a computable general equilibrium approach," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 4110-4127, March.
    18. Pardhi, Ashish & Jungari, Suresh & Kale, Parshuram & Bomble, Priyanka, 2020. "Migrant motherhood: Maternal and child health care utilization of forced migrants in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 110(C).
    19. Sundar Ponnusamy, 2022. "Natural disasters and missing children," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 399-416, February.
    20. Fichera, Eleonora & Savage, David, 2015. "Income and Health in Tanzania. An Instrumental Variable Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 500-515.
    21. Aurélia Lépine & Maria Restuccio & Eric Strobl, 2021. "Can we mitigate the effect of natural disasters on child health? Evidence from the Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 432-452, February.
    22. Michelle S. Escobar Carías & David W. Johnston & Rachel Knott & Rohan Sweeney, 2022. "Flood disasters and health among the urban poor," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(9), pages 2072-2089, September.
    23. El-Shal, Amira & Mohieldin, Mahmoud & Moustafa, Eman, 2022. "Indirect impact of health disasters on maternal and child mortality," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 477-493.
    24. Bahru, B., 2018. "Climatic shocks and child undernutrition in Ethiopia: A longitudinal path analysis," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277297, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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